St Patrick’s Day proved to be another great experience for DFB members and visiting firefighters alike.
The Dublin Fire Brigade once again took centre stage for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, with the Pipe Band leading the way as members of the Brigade represented the Guard of Honour for Lord Mayor Nial Ring.
With all members in full uniform, they presented an eye-catching spectacle for the 500,000 people lining the route on what was a busy but very enjoyable day.
Of course, activities started long before the parade, with a huge amount of preparation going into the event, and enormous thanks must go out to all involved in its organisation.
The DFB played host to a large number of firefighters from overseas over the weekend, with many staying at the OBI Training Centre in Marino, and a number of these were treated to a tour of the facilities and the museum by Pipe Band Major Damien Fynes and Museum Curator Paul Hand on the day before St Patrick’s Day.
As well as firefighters from Plantation, Margate and North Lauderdale in Florida, guests from Southampton, New York, London and Tasmania were also hosted, while visitors shown around the OBI included “The Chicago Ladies” from the Naperville and Bolingbrook areas of the city, Ryan Orseth from the Central Pierce Fire Department in Washington State, and Scott Knolton from Montgomery County, Tennessee.
St Patrick’s Day itself thankfully enjoyed better weather than the previous few days, and all DFB personnel and guests set out on a busy day with the sun overhead.
The first stop was Phibsboro Fire Station, and after the marching body, honour guard and pipe band had breakfast, the national flag was raised with a roll call of all members who have passed away in the past year.
Gifts were also presented to CFO Dennis Keeley by representatives of the visiting fire departments, before everybody formed up and began the march out through the gates of No.3 and on to the parade start line, where Lord Mayor Nial Ring greeted the group.
The DFB marching body was met enthusiastically along the entire route, and judging by the pictures, enjoyed the attention as much as the crowds enjoyed the spectacle.
The Pipe Band didn’t stop at the finishing line, instead continuing their tradition of playing a few tunes and getting the crowds involved later in DTwo.
It was at DTwo on Harcourt Street where everyone met up for some well-deserved pints and a chance to catch up with colleagues and visitors to talk about the day and to plan future endeavours.
For DFB members, it was another successful St Patrick’s Day, and for overseas visitors, the experience was hugely enjoyable.
Bill McGrath, Battalion Leader with North Lauderdale Fire Rescue, who are featured elsewhere in this issue, said that for him, it was a memorable experience.
“We had such a great time and the whole experience showed the true brotherhood of the fire service,” he told me. “The DFB were incredible. They were so hospitable, and we vowed there and then that we would be back next year. In fact, the trip is already planned.
“Walking in the Parade was amazing. I mean, we have parades, but that was on a different level. It was wonderful – the DFB personnel were great in organising what we could do, and made sure that we could not just march, but really enjoy the march. They were great.”
FF/P Michael Houghton, also of the North Lauderdale Fire Service, said: “What an amazing experience it was. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for a lot of us. I’ve gained memories on this trip that I will keep forever. The Dublin Fire Brigade treated us like family and welcomed us with open arms. The Brotherhood is strong!”
FF/P Charlie Gandia of Margate Fire & Rescue said: “What an amazing privilege! Seeing the beauty and history that Ireland had to offer, coupled with the experience of marching in the St Patrick’s Day Parade with the Dublin Fire Brigade truly left a mark in my memory forever. That is the type of fellowship I could never forget.”
Dave Radzivill, a Firefighter/Driver Engineer from Plantation Fire Department in Florida, said: “The members of Dublin Fire Brigade were awesome. Their kindness and hospitality made me feel like a part of their organisation. From the early morning assembly to the social gathering following the parade, and along the entire way in between, I felt honoured to be a part of such an amazing group, and privileged to have been given the opportunity to participate alongside them. The members of the DFB were the exclamation point at the end of an amazing day in Dublin!”
Iraldo Curbelo, EMS Battalion Chief with Plantation Fire Department, was also full of praise, saying: “Magnificent experience, a must-do bucket list for all firefighters! I felt extremely proud to represent the Plantation Fire Department, our city, state and the United States of America, and to participate alongside the Dublin Fire Brigade. Many thanks to the DFB for their hospitality and accommodations. I made lifelong friends.”
Once again, many thanks to all who took part in the day and to all those who helped organise every aspect of the weekend. DFB’s involvement in the St Patrick’s Day Parade was another great success, and this is down to the hard work and dedication of those who go above and beyond to ensure everything goes to plan and that all involved enjoy being part of it.